How will the “right to die” impact the Power of Attorney?
The recent Supreme Court of Canada decision on the ‘right to die’ issue, known as “Carter v. Canada”, found the provisions of the Criminal code dealing with assisted suicide to be invalid, as being contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights. Although the Court struck out that Criminal code section, the Court did not impose any framework for how the ‘right to die’ should be dealt with, legislative or otherwise. Therefore, it remains unclear how to deal with this major shift in the law in our day-to-day lives. Of importance will be, not only the ability of a person to give permission to have medication administered which ends his/her life, but also how that permission is given. One important question, unanswered as of yet, is as to whether a donor of a power of attorney for personal care will be able to provide, in advance by living will (see earlier blog), instructions for assisted suicide. Currently, such instructions would be invalid. We must wait to see whether any legislation or other medical guidelines will shed light on the ability to instruct assisted suicide by living will.